11:25 AM

When Ty Talks, Listen

I became a fan of Ty Pennington in 2010 when he brought “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to Georgia to renovate the home of a couple who lived near me. It touched me to realize the difference that renovation would make in the lives of their wheelchair-bound son and the dad, whose mobility was deteriorating due to ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

So, when Jackson EMC and the home makeover guru started to do “Ty Talks” about energy efficiency, my thought was “What a great idea!”

From solar energy to home remodeling, the TV host and home expert knows his stuff.

The “Ty Talks” videos are available at jacksonemc.com/tytalks and focus on various topics related to saving energy. The videos are about two to three minutes each but packed with good information. You can watch them all at once or refer to the video that tackles the subject you’re interested in right now.

“Energy efficient living in your home is really about doing more while consuming less energy,” says Ty.

Here’s a brief summary of each of his energy efficiency talks with Jackson EMC:

Water Heaters: Using technology can cut down energy costs linked to your water heater, your home’s second biggest energy user, which accounts for about 19% of electricity costs. When it’s time to replace your current system, Ty says to switch to an electric smart water heater that’s smart grid-enabled and updated to work more efficiently and last longer.

Smart Thermostats: Heating and cooling typically account for half of a home’s energy expenses. Upgrade to a smart thermostat to reduce those costs, according to Ty. Smart thermostats have built-in motion sensors that detect and react to your routine, raising or lowering temps to suit your schedule. Plus, you can use your smartphone to adjust the temperature in your home remotely.

Lighting: Ty talks about traditional, fluorescent and LED lighting, pointing out that while converting to energy efficient LED bulbs costs more upfront, the savings over time could make up for the cost to convert. Switch your entire house over to LED lighting, and you could save close to $11 a week on your power bill, says Ty.

Solar Energy/Renewables: Ty talks about the viability of installing solar panels, which depends on your home’s access to the sun, the condition of your roof and other variables. For many, the personal investment doesn’t make sense, but there is one way you can invest in solar energy that does make sense, according to Ty: Sign up for Green Power EMC through Jackson EMC, and you’ll be doing your part to pay for and promote solar energy in Georgia.

Remodeling: To make energy efficiency improvements when remodeling your home, start by having Jackson EMC conduct a Home Energy Evaluation, which provides recommendations for energy efficient ideas to incorporate into your remodeling project, from purchasing ENERGY STAR® appliances to adding extra insulation.

Insulation: Ty offers ideas on how to properly maintain your home’s thermal envelope, which includes the components that shield you from the outdoors, like walls, doors, caulking and weather-stripping. With proper insulation, you can cut about 30% of heating and cooling costs, according to Ty, who reveals tips on how to detect when new or additional insulation is necessary and which types of insulation work best in different areas of a house.

Home Automation: Ty recommends linking various home systems—water heater, heating and air, lights and locks — with your security system, allowing them to interface for automatic control by your security system. Set up parameters that tell your home what you want it to do, like arming the security system or turning off lights, whether you’re home or not.

Home Energy Evaluation: Ty talks about how Jackson EMC partners with energy experts who detect efficiency problems you may overlook. They use high-tech equipment to determine where your house is losing energy and then identify the most cost-effective improvements you can make. Jackson EMC members can apply for rebates to offset the cost of a home energy evaluation.

Jackie Kennedy has worked with Georgia’s electric cooperatives for 25 years, producing newsletters, press releases and articles about the industry or energy-related matters. She is the author of People, Power, Progress: The Story of Jackson EMC, published in 2013. In her blog, she grapples with a variety of energy efficiency topics.